QuickLit – June 2017

Linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy for her monthly QuickLit post, where we share “short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately”. I’ll share everything I’ve read over the previous month here at the end of each month, in the order I finished reading them. I read 16 books in June, even though by the end I felt like it had been a “slow” month. That turned out to be incorrect because I had zoomed through so many books at the beginning!

If you scroll all the way through to the bottom, you can see an update for my 2017 reading challenge, since June marks the halfway point for the year.

Here’s the quick recap of what I read this month. Skim until you see something that piques your interest!


01 WithWith: Reimainging the Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani
This book such a great way to self – examine the way you relate to God and changes it up to pursue true relationship instead of trying to live under, over, from, or for God. each of those other four postures lives up to our human desire for control, but is incapable of allaying our fears! But Christ came to restore relationship with God, not to give us rules, free us to indiscriminate sin, provide the desires of our hearts, or require our service. he simply came to be WITH us. I found this book to be an easy, quick read with life – changing implications. Hoping to see it “stick” in my life and actually change it!


02 The BreakdownThe Breakdown by B.A. Paris
I thought this new thriller, from the author of Behind Closed Doors, was just as gripping and twisty as her first novel. Cass is driving home on a dark and stormy night and takes a shortcut, which is twisty and spooky. She passes a car broken down on the side of the road but the driver doesn’t signal her so she moves on. The events over the weeks following this incident lead her to believe she is having a breakdown of her own. Psychological thrillers are totally my jam and this one holds up to the hype! #whocanyoutrust #thebreakdown
Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.


03 Stay With MeStay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
I thought this was beautiful and excellent. Reminded me of Americanah in the Nigerian present and past nature of it, the developing of the two stories concurrently. This story is heartbreaking and truthful and insightful. There is quite a bit of sex and talk about sex, but I wouldn’t consider this a romance, but more a truthful look at a long, complicated marriage, so just be aware. Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.


04 The Girl BeforeThe Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
So delightfully twisty and mysterious and creepy. I had heard somewhat mixed reviews on this one but it did not disappoint. It really came together well in the end and I found myself unable to put this one down. Jane and Emma live in the same bizarre, minimalist home a few years apart. They each arrive with their own baggage, and Jane attempts to figure out what happened to Emma, the girl before.


05 Exit WestExit West by Mohsin Hamid
I liked this, but mostly because I felt like I should and because it feels lime the right book at the right time. which is to say, it wasn’t like I liked it because it blew me away as so wonderful or well-written or eye-opening. it is what it is. a short (231 pages) and interesting/different look at the refugee crisis and the Westernized response to said crisis. Nadia and Saeed are young people living in an unnamed middle eastern country torn apart by riots and militant revolution.


06 DumplinDumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Oh, Willowdean! Loved this book. Loved the main character and her boldness and vivacious attitude. Loved the way the author showed us her self-doubt without her becoming self-deprecating. Loved her falling into first love and first kisses and first holding hands. Loved her taking control of her life and her destiny. I just loved the whole damn thing. Read it!


07 The Last TownThe Last Town by Blake Crouch
Wowzers. Sent my boys to a birthday party and read this one in one sitting! The conclusion of the wayward pines trilogy completely lives up to and fulfills the previous two novels. It’s all the drama and thrills and gore (ick) we’ve come to expect without feeling like he’s just rehashing the same plot or drawing what should have been one book out into three. For anyone who is a Kindle Unlimited member (I’m not, but you might be), this series is free!


08 I See YouI See You by Clare Mackintosh
This gave me the heebie jeebies. Clare Mackintosh is definitely not a one-hit wonder. I thought for sure she wouldn’t be able to follow up I Let You Go with anything nearly as twisty and unexpected, but she does it here. As an author, she’s great at taking the reader down many paths of suspicion without you feeling like you can’t trust her. Really well done.


09 The Zookeeper's WifeThe Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
I thought this was an interesting look at the Zabinski family, who ran the zoo in Poland during WWII. They used the zoo to protect their Jewish friends and neighbors and smuggle them out of the Warsaw ghetto. I felt like the author had a hard time straddling the non-fiction/novel line, which is why I’m not rating this higher than 3 stars. I was happy to listen to this one for free using the Audible Channels for Prime. They have at least 30 audiobooks at any given time that members can listen to at their leisure (but not download). Just another perk of being an Audible member (side note: super good deals on membership right now because Prime Day is right around the corner!).


10 Throne of GlassThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Girls who kick ass are always on my thumbs up list! Yes to this series. Can’t wait to read the next one. Celaena Sardothien is an assassin who serves in the hard labor camps to pay for her crimes. She is then chosen by the Crown Prince to be “his champion” in a competition to become the King’s royal assassin. I listened to this one on audio, which I felt was a good choice, especially for the first part of this series, as I would have been pronouncing the names all wrong in my head!


11 If I RunIf I Run by Terri Blackstock
Casey finds her best friend dead and knows she’ll go down for it if she doesn’t run. so we follow her and get a bird’s eye view of the case from the PI trying to follow her as well. This book wasn’t quite as twisty as I like, and I can honestly say I didn’t think the sub-genre of Christian thriller existed, but Terry Blackstock proves me wrong. Overall, compelling and well done. Happy to have received this one for free from the Audiobook Sync program, which provides two free audiobooks a week for the whole summer! We’re already on week 10 for this year, but there’s still good stuff coming up. Check it out here!


12 Gilded CageGilded Cage by Vic James
The gilded cage imagines an alternate world where the Equals (the elite of society) are not just the richest and most powerful, but are Skilled with powers like magic to create, destroy and manipulate the physical world around them as well as the emotional abs thought lives of others. the unskilled ate commoners, each required by law to serve 10 years of slavery in service to the Equals. It is this world into which we are thrust to follow the story of one common family (mainly their children Abi and Jake) and one Equal family (and their 3 sons: Gavar, Jenner, and Silyeun). As the common family starts their years of servitude, they are torn apart and sent to different locations.
I thought this book was decent at creating this alternate reality, but not so great at developing the thoughts and actions of the characters. It seemed somewhat rushed, especially toward the end. Not sure if I’ll pick up the sequel when it is released.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


13 Red TentThe Red Tent by Anita Diamant
I love the retelling of an old story in a new way. It took me quite some time to get into this book (the first 30 pages took me a solid 5 days to read… yikes), but eventually, the story of Dinah and her biblical family drew me in. I love the rhythms of life from the old testament and the sweetness of mothers and daughters. I love stories of midwives and births. I love ancient Israel and Egypt.


14 SourdoughSourdough by Robin Sloan
This was a fun, quick read that made me want to eat really good sourdough for every meal for the rest of my life. based in San Francisco, this reminded me a bit of a word food network show premise: girl at a tech company receives sourdough starter. She doesn’t know how to cook or bake, but opts to learn and see where the starter takes her. The answer: adventure! I really enjoyed this next book from Robin Sloan. It was totally different from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but just as fun and interesting. Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


15 The Impossible FortressThe Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
This was short and sweet and so fun. Not high literature by any means, but definitely full of nostalgia and sass and laugh out loud moments. Nerds, lovers of the 80s, and computer/ video game geeks unite. I was happy to be reading this at my parents’ house over the weekend, and to get to chat with my dad about it (he worked at Intel throughout the 70’s 80’s and 90’s, so he’s all about the old-school computer jargon). I think it would be a great story for the dude in your life who doesn’t necessarily love to read.


16 Forgetting TimeThe Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
My favorite book of the month was also the last one! As my friend Lis predicted, this was especially poignant for me as I hold my baby Noah and read about little boy Noah who is terrified of the water and is maybe, possibly remembering a previous life. Noah’s mom Janie cannot explain her son’s fear of the bath and washing his hands. Psychologists tell her he might need antipsychotics. She is desperate for answers. This book was unputdownable. Totally engrossing.


Who can believe the year is already half over?? Here’s a little update on the reading challenge I committed to at the beginning of the year:

notes-on-bookmarks

At the moment, here’s where I stand on these categories:

  • 113 books completed. Well over halfway! That’s more than 35000 pages read so far this year!
  • Only 49 were books I owned, so I have been reading more than 50% borrowed books.
  • Only 11 have been by authors of color, so I definitely have some reading to do in that area.
  • Have not yet read a short story collection
  • Have read books in translation (almost all by Frederik Backman)
  • I’ve already read 30 non-fiction books and memiors!
  • Working on The Count of Monte Cristo for the author that died before I was born, but also read Louisa May Alcott and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Have read two books under 100 pages
  • Reading Monte Cristo which is well over 500 pages, but haven’t finished it yet!
  • Have not read a book in NM
  • Have read 2 books by LGBT authors
  • Have read a few award-winners.

 

Audiobooks for Summer Road Trips

There’s nothing like hopping in the car for a summer road trip, knowing there’s 1,000 miles of open road ahead of you, and wondering how you’re going to fill the time. Sure, you might be able to sit shotgun and read the whole time, or you might end up throwing up from motion sickness. Audiobooks are the perfect solution to that dilemma! And the best news is that there are audiobooks of every length, so you can find the one that perfectly fits your roadtrip needs!

If you’re new to audiobooks, be sure to take a look at the free trial membership for Audible. You’ll get two free audiobook credits when you sign up, and then it’s just $14.95 or less per month thereafter (or cancel during your trial and keep your two free books!). Especially helpful for the MONSTER audiobooks at the end, which are, as may be expected, more expensive than the shorter novels.

Other great options: check your local library to see if they have either books on CD or a digital membership option (like: Overdrive, Hoopla, or CloudLibrary). Then, you can borrow audiobooks for free! Digital downloads also allow you to speed up the narration (one of my favorite tricks for getting in some additional reading time).I have personally listened to each of these stories on audiobook and am arranging them by road trip length, so it’s easy to find the one you need!

Now, onto the recommendations! I have personally listened to each of these stories on audiobook and am arranging them by road trip length, so it’s easy to find the one you need!

audiobooks

Short and Sweet – half a day (>6 hours)

03 Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 4 hours, 52 minutes

Get the Jake Gyllenhall narration, because his voice is just dreamy and perfect for this classic.

04-the-alchemistThe Alchemist by Paolo Coelho – 4 hours

Narrated by Jeremy Irons, this classic adventure tale is perfect for a road trip.

9 - My Name is Lucy BartonMy Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – 4 hours, 12 minutes

This book gets a lot of love. It is kind of like a character study or a collection of short stories about the main character and her mother. If you want big plot though, take a pass.

51qKM1sZiTL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_The Crossover by Kwame Alexander – 2 hours, 16 minutes

This is a middle-grade verse novel and was my first introduction to the genre. Hearing a verse novel read aloud is absolutely the way to go, although the text is often beautifully arranged on the page as well. This story about a middle-grade boy who plays basketball will captivate all ages.

16-born-standing-upBorn Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin – 4 hours, 3 minutes

Steve Martin reads his own memoir and plays banjo during the interludes. Although this isn’t quite as funny as you might be prepared to think (no risk of not being able to see because you are crying laughing), it will still bring you some great laughs!

11-the-outsidersThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – 5 hours, 12 minutes

This classic story about Pony Boy and his brothers was written by a teenager! Once you get your head around that, you’ll listen to the story of two rival gangs, the Socs and the Greasers. It’s a classic for a reason, and you’ll find elements of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, and even Grease (the musical) in this tale.

Medium Length – a full day’s drive (6+ hours)

12-food-a-love-storyFood: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan – 7 hours, 17 minutes

This collection of stories, read by the author, is so funny that I’ve listened to it twice and laughed even harder the second time. Jim Gaffigan is 99% kid-safe, so we listened to this one with the kids in the backseat and had them laughing right along with us.

as you wishAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Carey Elwes – 7 hours, 1 minute

Any Princess Bride fan will love this collection of stories about the making of one of the best films of all time (yep, I’ll stand by that until I die). It’s mostly narrated by Elwes, but he brings in so many friends from the cast to help, I put it at 96% odds that you’ll watch the movie again when you’re done.

18774964A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman – 9 hours 9 minutes

Backman’s first work is mostly about a grumpy old curmudgeon who misses his wife so much that he’s pretty sure he should follow her to the grave. But his needy neighbors continue to ask for his help, fouling up his plans. Later made into an equally endearing movie, this gem of a book is perfect on audio, at least partly so you don’t have to wonder how to pronounce the Swedish words.

09-the-roadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy – 6 hours, 39 minutes

A post-apocalyptic story about a man and a boy on the road is perfect for a road trip. Some rough content in this one, so probably steer away from listening with little ears around. This classic is so well done.

born-a-crimeBorn a Crime by Trevor Noah – 8 hours, 50 minutes

Trevor Noah is the host of the daily show, but his memoir will take you back to his childhood in South Africa and open your eyes, make you laugh, and horrify you. I firmly believe that audiobook is the only way to experience this book, as Noah (who narrates it) speaks so many languages and they just roll off his tongue!

19 At Home in the WorldAt Home In The World by Tsh Oxenreider – 7 hours, 17 minutes

Whether you are setting out for adventure or you are on your way back home, Tsh’s book is the perfect companion for your family travels. I read this early this year and knew it would be one of my favorite books of the year. That still holds true about halfway in. You can read more about my reaction to this book here and you can check in on my interview with Tsh here.

The Long Haul – two or more days of driving (13+ hours)

8 - 11-22-6311/22/63 by Stephen King – 30 hours, 44 minutes

This monster of a book is the longest on this list, but it will make the miles fly by. 11/22/63 is a departure from King’s regular writing, with very minimal “horror” type scenes. A man discovers a portal to the past, which brings him to 1959, too late to stop the Holocaust, but perhaps early enough to stop the assassination of JFK.

5 Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – 23 hours, 59 minutes

This sweeping novel spans generations and continents. It is written and narrated beautifully and really brings the country of Ethiopia to life for the reader. Twins, medicine, family, civil war, immigration. There is something wonderful about a writer who can address all of these subjects without his book coming off as an overblown windbag. Verghese does it.

9 Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline – 15 hours, 46 minutes

Wil Wheaton narrates the audio for this, which might not seem like it’s up your alley but probably is. This futuristic sci-fi novel is a trip through all the fun of 80s nostalgia, intermingled with the technology takeover that we all know is in the future!

09-lilac-girlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – 17 hours, 30 minutes

Three different narrators tell the stories of Caroline, Kasia and Hetta, three women during WWII. Caroline is an American socialite. Kasia is a Polish teenager. And Hetta is a German doctor. This story will stick with you long after you finish listening.

02-small-great-thingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult – 16 hours, 15 minutes

The newest novel from Jodi Picoult is so timely. It centers on a hospital case, in which a white supremicist requests that a black nurse not be allowed to care for his newborn son. The court case that follows is heart-wrenching and timely.

theft by findingTheft by Finding by David Sedaris – 13 hours, 52 minutes

I could listen to David Sedaris read the menu at McDonald’s and be happy. I’ve gotten to see him speak live three times already (going again in November). His dry delivery is always on point. This newest work is a collection of diary entries from his personal diaries between 1977 and 2002.

QuickLit – May 2017

Linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy for her monthly QuickLit post, where we share “short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately”. I’ll share everything I’ve read over the previous month here at the end of each month, in the order I finished reading them. I read 17 books in May and also finished another read-aloud chapter book with the kidlets. This month my blog turned one year old! Happy birthday to NotesOnBookmarks (and to me)!

Also this month: I completed a Read Your Shelves Challenge with the book club that I’m part of. A number of us committed to reading the books already on our shelves instead of buying new books and/or borrowing from the library. I’m happy to say that I mostly stuck to that plan (and snagged a couple Kindle deals, but didn’t otherwise spend any money on books)! I’ve been missing my library, though, so I’ve already started requesting new holds for June!

Here’s the quick recap of what I read this month. Skim until you see something that piques your interest!


01 UnoffendableUnoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Brant Hansen

I thought this was a fun, interesting look at our culture and the propensity toward anger and offense in regard to everything we do. Brant Hansen is funny and witty, and able to put story and context to so many of his points. That makes this an easy read that has the potential to really change your perspective with regard to the attitude toward others, your circumstances, etc that we take in our daily lives.


02 Green EmberThe Green Ember by S.D. Smith

My kiddos are going to love this book. So glad I own the audio version. Joel Clarkson’s narration is fantastic and there’s no way to not get sucked into this story about these little rabbits and their warren. It feels rather “Lord of the Rings” to me, although not with quite the same prestige as J.R.R. Tolkien, obviously… The sequel is supposed to be equally amazing, so I’ll be picking up Ember Falls next (after my read-your-shelves challenge)!


03 Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Read this in HS and considered that good enough, until Megan Tietz raved about it on the What Should I Read Next podcast. Then, the audio went on sale super cheap so I snagged it and listened to Jake Gyllenhall’s buttery voice (is it just me, or, when he reads Gatsby’s dialogue, does he sound like Leonardo DiCaprio??). This is such a short, easy read, and a classic of American literature. The whole thing just draws you right in. If you haven’t read it, what’s stopping you?


04 She's Not ThereShe’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Boylan

I was surprised when I finally got drawn into this book. At first, the only thing that kept me from putting it aside was the drama I was sure would ensue when James made the transition to Jennifer. But Jenny’s writing is funny and concise and well done. She captures the emotional and physical aspects of her transition from male to female succinctly and articulately. If you are at all interested in transgender issues, this is an excellent read. This was my one library book from this month, but I started it at the end of April, so I didn’t count it as breaking the “Read Your Shelves” rules!


05 Code Name VerityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This WWII historical novel would male a great book flight pairing with The Nightingale and Everyone Brave is Forgiven and All The Light We Cannot See. Strong, independent girls and women stepping up to fight, defend, fly, nurse. Queenie and Julie are courageous and sweet. Their friendship, forged through/during war, is quick, deep, and enduring. I loved this whole book, the way it was put together and the way it twists and turns. Everything about it is splendid.


06 Till We Have FacesTill We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is a master for a reason. In this retelling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, he expands the story, turns it on its head, gives us a backstory that never existed. Although I did not love the audio narration of this one, I did love the story itself.
I will say that even though I enjoyed this “myth retold”, I didn’t find it life-changing, as some reviewers have mentioned. Perhaps I wasn’t reading as much into it as I should have? I was expecting to be more blown away than I was!


07 Chasing SlowChasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner

Of course, a designer would create a beautiful book. Because it’s clear that everything was thoroughly contemplated and decided upon, I’ll recommend you pick up the ACTUAL paper book on this one (even though I often think the Kindle or audio version is just fine). Erin Loechner gives us her mini-memoir about what it looks like to chase after “slow” while living in this fast-paced world, where everyone calls after you for “more more more”. It feels impossible to set down the phone/computer/email/chores and just live your life, slowing down to see it and embrace it. And pursue a little less for a while.
Even though this isn’t the point of this book, I did in fact, send clothes to ThredUp, make a goodwill donation, and clear out kids’ toys while reading it, because I just felt myself pulled to less less lessless. And that’s exactly the point.


08 Secret GardenThe Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett

Oh, this sweet and classic story is darling in every way. I felt sure that I had read it when I was younger, but if so, I had forgotten almost all of it and only remembered the film. The text, as expected, is so much richer and fuller than expected
This may be a book for children, but for me, it will be a book for every spring. It is perfection when the world around you is blossoming and turning green and bursting to life.


09 All the Birds in the SkyAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Although I found some parts of this book really interesting, I mostly felt that it was kind of plodding, instead of riveting as it should have been. Patricia and Lawrence are both exceptionally gifted (her in magic, him in technology prowess). Neither is socially adept, so they end up as friends in junior high. As they grow, their paths continue to cross and uncross at each vital juncture in their lives. Overall, I thought this was decent (in audio), but don’t know if I would have stuck with it if not for the Read Your Shelves challenge.


10 Love Walked InLove Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

This novel d-r-a-g-g-e-d for me. And reminded me why I absolutely LOATHE the mass market paperback. Such a pain in the ass. I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up this story about Cordelia, and Martin, and Clare, and Viviana, and Teo. Although, much like the other ladies in the story, I’m definitely a bit in love with Teo. Rawr.
by the end, I finally tore through the last 70 pages or so, but it took THAT long for it to pick up for me.


11 Readers of Broken WheelThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

I wanted this book to be more than it was. I wanted it to move faster but savor the books and reading aspect more. I wanted it to draw me in more and beg me to pick it up and give me more quotable gems about the joys of reading. I wanted a more bookish book lovers book, and in that sense, it didn’t quite deliver. However, I will say that the story of Sara, a Swedish girl who goes to visit her friend Amy in Broken Wheel, Iowa, did stir in me the desire to go on more book-fueled adventures. Who’s up for an Indie Bookstore road trip??


12 Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The narration by Rachel McAdams on the audiobook for this is just perfection in every way. She so completely captures Anne’s spirit while performing the dialogue. This book is a classic for a reason, of course! Even though I watched the movie over and over when I was young, I could swear I had already read the book as well. But now I’m not totally sure that is true. It seemed so much more this time than it ever was. So, whether it was a reread or not, I’m so glad I made time for this version. Avonlea has my heart.


13 Good as GoneGood As Gone by Amy Gentry

This was a quick and interesting, if a bit predictable, read. I enjoyed the way the author worked from front to back AND back to front simultaneously. Julie has been missing for 8 years, with her younger sister Jane as the only witness to her kidnapping. Jane comes home from her first year at college and Julie shows up at the door. Her family is overjoyed to have her home, of course, until a PI casts doubt upon Julie’s identity. Is the woman who showed up really their long-lost daughter?


14 BeartownBeartown by Frederik Backman

For fans of Backman’s previous work, know that this is so completely different in almost every way, with one important common thread: he writes the emotions and hearts of every person so well. He dives deep into the thoughts and feelings of his characters and embodies them completely.
Beartown is a hockey town. Beartown lives and breathes hockey. And when a tragedy rocks the town, they have to decide how to respond, who to believe, as a team, as a club, as a town. This book had me laughing and crying like his other novels, but also kept me on the very edge of my seat.
NetGalley provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


15 One and Only IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Oh, I loved this sweet story about Ivan, and Stella, and Bob, and Ruby. I love imagining the inner workings and understanding of animals, and I love elephants, so this was a perfect fit for me. Also, if you’ve ever watched and cried over an “unlikely animal friendship” video or picture or story, this one is for you. Can’t wait to share this darling tale with my boys and talk about what it means to be brave, the ways we communicate, and whose job it is to take care of the least of these. So much good stuff in here.


16 Little WomenLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott

This classic novel feels to me like the original family drama. It deftly examines the themes of sisterhood and friendship and first love and marriage and parenting and gender roles and feminism, all while being super readable and full of sweet and tearful moments. So glad to have taken the time to listen to it (not totally sure if this is a re-read or not: either way I’m happy to have made time for it). The March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy each win your heart in their own ways. The audio narration was great.


17 Present Over PerfectPresent Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

I think it’s possible that, by reading bread and wine first, I’ve ruined myself forever for Shauna Niequist. This collection of essays was lovely enough. And the side of my completed book still has a few book darts stuck in it for the ones I want to come back to later, but not as many as I was expecting based on the way I had heard about this book and the praise it is garnering. Regardless, I am happy to have read it and I’m glad to be working through the videos and study guide online.


 

Quick Lit – April 2017

Linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy for her monthly QuickLit post, where we share “short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately”. I’ll share everything I’ve read over the previous month here at the end of each month, in the order I finished reading them. I read 20 books in April, plus finished two read-aloud chapter books with the boys. Skim til you see something you like!


01 Perfect StrangerThe Perfect Stranger – Megan Miranda
This was so convoluted and hard to follow. I think she was trying to weave a masterful web of suspense, but fell short by making it too complicated and then having to tie together so many threads. Leah is trying to rebuild her life after a professional disaster that leaves her fleeing everything she knows with her friend Emmy by her side. in her new idyllic town things start to go south and Leah is caught in the middle, trying to decide how much of her past she needs to reveal. Not necessary to read her first book before this one.


02 The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
This reads almost like a verse novel. You get right into Starr’s head as she deals with the emotional and societal fallout from the defining moment of her young life: watching her friend get gunned down by a cop. Starr is no sheltered child though, she also saw a friend get killed in a drive-by shooting at just ten years old, her daddy has been to prison, and she is surrounded by gangbangers. When her eyewitness account becomes pivotal, she has to decide where she stands and what bravery looks like to her.
This novel is absolutely riveting and emotional and illuminating. Highly recommended.


03 Sun is Also a StarThe Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon
I gave this one five stars. It’s probably more like 4.5, but let’s go ahead and err on the side of generosity while I’ve still got all the warm fuzzies and the wet eyes.
Natasha and Daniel meet through a series of unconnected events that maybe shouldn’t have happened. his poetic heart tries to convince her science-y one that love at first sight is real and they are meant to be. But she finds it hard to live in the moment because her family is being deported that same night, to move back to Jamaica. Read this one. It’s fun and quick and sweet and you won’t be disappointed.


04 And Every Morning the Way HomeAnd Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer – Fredrick Backman
This short story was sweet and darling. And sad. it reminded me of my grandpa, my daddy, the way my daddy is as a grandpa to my boys. it reminded me of my grandma and the way she loves my grandfather now, as her memory disintegrates. It’s just lovely. And heartbreaking. But mostly lovely.


05 The Kitchen HouseThe Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom
I thought this was a beautifully written novel about Belle and Louvenia in the late 1700s/ early 1800s. Louvenia is a young Irish girl who is sold into bondage and becomes friends/ adopted family with the slaves that live on the plantation. Belle is one of those slaves. In this novel you see the girls grow up together. you see how their race determines their futures even though they are both enslaved.


06 Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea – Rita Septys
Oh, I loved this book. I loved the way the characters came together, each telling their own story but expertly interwoven throughout the novel. It is heartbreaking and sweet and eye-opening and sad. I loved every word. looking forward to reading more from Ruta Sepetys.

 


07 The CrownThe Crown – Kiera Cass
Is it bad that I’m mostly glad to be done wth this series? take my advice and stop after book 3, even if I do feel like the VERY end of this one redeemed most of book 4. Eadlyn gets her ish figured out eventually, but blah blah blah blah blah.

 


08 ColumbineColumbine – Dave Cullen
This is so tough to listen to, but absolutely amazing in the depth of research and the way Cullen put the tragedy together to make it more digestible. unless you yourself were an FBI investigator on this case, there’s guaranteed to be something in here that surprises you or haunts you. even if you feel like you were inundated with the news of this tragedy when it occurred. the build up prior and the fallout afterward are interspersed with accounts of the tragedy itself. not for the faint of heart or the HSP reader, but very interesting reading for the rest of us who can almost stomach it.


09 The Sound of GravelThe Sound of Gravel – Ruth Wariner
This memoir was heartbreaking and, at times, terrible. Ruth Wariner grew up as part of a polygamist sect in Mexico. Her mom was second wife to the sect’s founder, who was murdered. she then became second wife again to Ruth’s stepfather. living off of us government assistance in definite substandard housing, this is a story of abuse, poverty, and, ultimately, survival.




10 Radium Girls

The Radium Girls – Kate Moore
This was so interesting, but also devastating. the radium girls changed the face of American industry and health and safety law, but to do so, many of them had to die terrible deaths. this nonfiction retelling reads like fiction, as you draw near to so many of these girls and follow them to their doom. their fight is inspiring.


11 The Girl Who Drank the MoonThe Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill
I liked this sweet fantasy story of witches and monsters and dragons and fear and joy and magic. The protectorate leaves the youngest baby in the woods once a year for “The witch” in the woods. The witch collects these abandoned babies and takes them to villages of joy, not outstanding why they get left in the woods. The sorrow of the protectorate is complete. The joy of the villages and their star children is sweet and full.


12 I Liked My LifeI Liked My Life – Abby Fabiaschi
oh man did this one wreck me. I spent the whole book wondering if what we think happened really happened and what it took to get Madeline to that point in her life. she is clearly not ready to leave her family, as she spends her time in the afterlife observing and influencing her daughter Eve and her husband Brady. As a stay at home mama that often feels underappreciated, and like the things I do every day don’t matter THAT much, this book hit a little too close to home to be comfortable, but ultimately broke my heart while mending it. well done Abby Fabiaschi, at completely transporting us.


13 Flight of DreamsFlight of Dreams – Ariel Lawhon
this is a fictionalized account of the Hindenburg disaster, based on the lives of the real people who died in and survived the explosion. I liked the story well eggnog, although it did drag at points. I thought Lawhon did a good job not letting her research take over the story. The final author’s note kind of irked me a bit. She took the actual details of the real people’s lives and then crafted a story about what may have happened on the ship you cause it to explode, crafting their personalities, the things they said and did, and the day to day events from her own imagination. I a sense that’s fun and lovely, but I wish she would have given them pseudonyms, different from those of the actual passengers and crew, in order to not conflate the story with historical accounts. it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.


14 The Idea of YouThe Idea of You – Amanda Prowse
Lucy is single, 39, and yearning to be a mom when she meets Jonah. They marry and attempt to start their own family while blending with Jonah’s previous family. The story itself was heart-wrenching (especially for anyone who has ever miscarried).The thing that drove me nutty was the way Lucy talked to Jonah. The way they fight, the way she dishes out advice about things she wouldn’t know about, etc etc. I kept getting so annoyed with her.


15 Bad FeministBad Feminist – Roxanne Gay
This was fun and funny and then sharp and biting and then acerbic and then witty and then perceptive. It was all the things. My first foray into Roxanne Gay’s writing, I really enjoyed her take on everything from feminism to racism to BDSM to literature, fiction, and movies. Narrated by Bahni Turpin, and I could listen to her read ANYTHING.


16 All the Missing GirlsAll the Missing Girls – Megan Miranda
I thought this was so well put together. I love that you have to piece together the story from the end to the beginning, and you have ideas about what happened, but you don’t know if those ideas have already been confirmed or if they will come to light later. I think this was just masterfully done.


16 PersepolisPersepolis – Marjane Satrapi
my first experience with a graphic novel. don’t hate on me if I say this doesn’t really feel like reading and I’m not totally sure I get the appeal? the story of Persepolis, based on the author’s own childhood, does give insight into growing up in Iran and provide for plenty of discussion. I’m just feeling like I could have learned much more (and have) from other books on this topic. hmm. might have to think on this a bit more. I will say it was a quick read, so I definitely didn’t feel like I was wasting reading time or anything to that effect.


17 Gospel Centered CommunityThe Gospel-Centered Community – Bob Thune
Lots of Christianese, but definitely a good convicting read for a community group to tackle together. We took nine weeks to go through the nine chapters, which were very readable and sparked a good discussion about what real community looks like and how to cultivate it in your own church group.


18 Waking GodsWaking Gods – Sylvain Neuvel
My goodness, I love these books. I loved the way they’re written. I love the way Neuvel immerses us in the story. I love that there are no boring parts. I just love them. This one picks up about 7 years after the last one left off, but you dive right into the action. Buckle up, because it’s a fun ride! Not to be read out of order though, so definitely pick up Sleeping Giants first!


19 Marriage PactThe Marriage Pact – Michelle Richmond
well, I read this as a galley on a recommendation from an acquaintance who had already read the galley… and I probably won’t be taking her advice again. Jack and Alice are a newlywed couple who are invited to be part of The Pact, an organization that aims to protect marriage, but does so mostly through rules and punishment and fear. The idea is interesting, I just didn’t really like the execution of said idea. Also, I realize this was a galley copy, but the number of spelling and grammar errors was just inexcusable. I assume this was written on my phone, because the same mistakes were made throughout.


Also finished: Paddington and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as read-aloud books with my boys. Not posting reviews for those though!

Author Interview – Tsh Oxenreider

 

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Photo Credit: Holly Fish, photographer

 

Hi Tsh! Thanks so much for joining us over on Notes on Bookmarks today. I am so excited about your new book! As part of the Launch Team, I got to read it early, and I can honestly say that your memoir about your travels and the search for home spoke to me in so many ways. It felt like you wrote it for me! You can read a whole post with my take on the book and where I feel at home in the world here

So, let’s get this party started with the five-minute Tsh intro and then a little something not many people know about you!

Tsh is the author of Notes from a Blue Bike and Organized Simplicity, the founder of the community blog The Art of Simple, and the podcaster behind The Simple Show. Her writing has been featured in the Washington Post, CNN, Real Simple magazine, and more. A Longhorn graduate of the University of Texas, where she studied English and anthropology, Tsh currently lives just outside Austin, Texas with her family and eats tacos several times a week.

Hmm… I guess maybe the thing people don’t know about me is my name really and truly is spelled T-s-h on my birth certificate. The quickest explanation for it is it was the 70s, and my parents were in an experimental mood (my brother was born five years later, in 1982, and they named him Josh, one of the most common names of the 80s). My dad says I was named after a protagonist in a book he read while my mom was pregnant with me. It’s set in the Soviet Union about a MI-6 pilot that was shot down in Moscow, and he falls in love with a woman named Tsh. But fun fact: I’ve been to Russia, and I’ve asked around – it’s an unusual name even for there! So I’m fairly certain the author just made up the name.

19 At Home in the WorldIn your new book, At Home in the World, we essentially get to journey with you and your family (husband and three kiddos) as you circumnavigate the globe. When you left for your big trip, you sold your home, eliminated many belongings and put the rest in storage, so you were essentially homeless for the year. As the author of Organized Simplicity and the creator of The Art of Simple, it seems like there might not have been much to let go of, but I’m guessing that a family of five, even one that lives simply, still has plenty of belongings. Can you tell us a bit about your “preparing to leave” process and what surprised you as to what you wish you had kept when you came home or what you wish you had been more ruthless about eliminating?

We still had to decide over every little thing, using the question, “What do we think we might need for the next year?” If you think about it, that’s pretty challenging to predict. We got rid of some stuff, more in the natural decluttering process people naturally do when you’re planning to fit everything into a storage unit, but we didn’t really get rid of a third more of our belongings until we returned home. We pulled up that storage unit door and immediately thought, “Why on earth did we keep these things?” It was glorious to have so little for a year—it taught me first-hand how very, very little we need in this life.

We ultimately each had about 3 tops, 3 bottoms, and 2-3 pairs of shoes for the year, and we were more than happy with this. So when I went through my clothes when we returned—even with my already limited wardrobe–it all felt a bit ridiculous. I know extended travel isn’t normal life, so I get why we have more clothes in the here and now… but it was still dreamy to have such a tiny amount of laundry for a school year.

Something I’ve been thinking about as I let your book marinate a bit is how you so perfectly capture that tension that we’ve all (I assume) felt between wanting to see this big beautiful world, and wanting a place to come home to and feel comfortable in, and recognize as a place of belonging. I myself can so sympathize with the fact that, even when we go away for just a few days, I am so GLAD to get to sleep in my bed again when I get home! Almost always, that is the thing I miss the most when we travel (that, and our pup). But that doesn’t squelch the desire to go, either. You slept in, and oftentimes shared, so many beds and spaces during your year abroad. If you can pinpoint the THING you missed the most during that year, what do you think it would be? (Other than the broader idea of “a home”, I mean).

For sure, it was my bed that I missed the most. I don’t have a fancy bed, but it’s mine, and it’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It represents being home to me. I didn’t realize how picky I was about things like sheets and pillows until I slept on a bajillion of them, all slightly different from each other. Plus, once we came back we slept in other people’s beds stateside because we housesat or stayed with family while we figured out where to live. We were more than ready for our bed when we finally came back… The first night on our own mattress was heaven.

A close second to my bed was my white owl coffee mug I’ve affectionately named Hedwig. He represents being home, too, and I missed having my morning coffee with him. It was so fun to unpack him and get him back in my coffee rotation.

thesimpleshow-artYour podcast, and your new-ish addition of rotating co-hosts, has really brought to life the three aspects of this work that I really love: home, travel, and books. All three are encapsulated here! People who are interested in the book, but haven’t yet ordered, can listen to the entire first chapter on audio by checking out episode 65 right here! Since the book itself captures the tension between travel and home, can you tell us a bit more about the books of your travels? You mention reading on your loaded Kindle Paperwhite during the trip, and I’d love to hear which books really stuck with you or will always remind you of a certain place. I know when I read somewhere unique, the place often gets solidified in my memory as part of the book, so I can just imagine how some books from that year must be inextricably linked for you to the places you got to visit!

My daughter and I both read Red Scarf Girl in China, and it really helped us both better understand the Chinese mindset. I picked up Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden in a used bookstore in Chiang Mai, just for fun (because I still prefer paper books over the digital version, all things being equal). I read The Storied Life of AJ Fikry in Australia, so I will always think of our quiet, slow time in the Sydney suburbs when I see that book cover. I re-read my friend Emily’s book A Million Little Ways because it was in the library of the Sole Hope guesthouse in Uganda, and that was fun – felt like talking to a friend, which helped with the loneliness. Probably most significant for me was reading All the Light We Cannot See while we were in France—it just so happened that it was finally my turn from the library’s wait list while we were there. It literally happened when we were in the air from Morocco to France, so it was a lovely surprise when it auto-downloaded the next time I opened my Kindle after we landed. That’s now one of my favorite books, and I think it’s partly because I read it where the book largely takes place.

As I read through your book, one of the first things that happened was a conversation with my darling husband about how we dated, engaged, and were married with travel as one of our guiding principles (we visited 7 countries together before we had kiddos!), but having three kids seemed to have minimized that desire. Despite our prayers that our children would travel to experience, see, and love the world, we became daunted by the idea of road trips and plane flights and sleeping in hotels. The conversations spurred by At Home In The World have already led to two upcoming family vacations planned (along with the other travels we had planned for this summer) and discussions about a bigger, overseas trip for next year. And all that it took was a reminder from you that WE ALSO love to travel! Even though this is a memoir, and not a how-to guide, what are you hoping your readers get out of this book? How do you hope they apply your story to their own lives?

I have heard so many stories like this, and I absolutely love it! It thrills me to no end to hear of adults being reminded of their love for travel after reading this book, then deciding to go ahead and book flights for an adventure with their kids. I can think of no greater outcome. Even if it means starting with a weekend venture only a few hours from home, that’s worth it to me.

I also genuinely love hearing from people who say they really have no interest in travel, and they love that At Home didn’t shame them for it. I truly want people to feel at peace wherever they call home, and perhaps take their own, unofficial form of a Vow of Stability.

Whether or not people actually take a big round-the-world trip with their kids, I want people to not idolize travel, and instead remember the privilege it is to see the world so easily in our modern age. And yet, it also means so many people from around the world live near us, more than ever before. I hope it also encourages people to reach out to those who might seem different than us—maybe we don’t share a first language, maybe our neighbors were born in another country—and get to know them just as people. What a great outcome that would be for this book!

I feel like the desires you express for your travel in this paragraph from the first chapter are so practical and small that they make it seem doable for each of us:

“I want to see a thousand tiny places, smell their flowers, and taste the sauces made by their people. I want to feel the difference between the textures of grit in Sri Lanka and Morocco. I want to meet the woman who bakes the best bread in the smallest town in New Zealand. I want to find the best vantage point to see Bosnia from Croatia. What do the Grand Marnier crêpes taste like in Rouen? In Paris? There are untold numbers of tiny places and extraordinary people who occupy them. We will perhaps see a hundred of both.”

PrintYes, we may want to see the whole world, but that’s impossible. And it’s certainly impossible to see and appreciate and know the whole world. So let’s remember that we are tiny, that the space we take up is minute, and embrace the actual physical space and people that are around us this moment. As Jill Briscoe said at this year’s IF: Gathering, “My mission field is between my own two feet.” Do you feel like you were able to achieve all of these small desires for your travels? Do you feel like you will ever go and see all the places you want to visit? Do you feel like the desire to travel will ever be satisfied? Or do we all embrace the tension, and live in the already/not yet of home and away, the impossible search for heaven on Earth?

I know I won’t ever see all the places I want to see, and that’s an okay place to be, because this side of heaven, we won’t ever feel fully satisfied. As CS Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in the world will satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Our year of travels taught me that the beauty of exploring the world is best tempered with the beauty of the ordinary life of home. I love my home more because I enjoy time away from it, discovering new places. And I love traveling because I know I have a home to hang my backpack when I’m done.

Thank you so very much, Tsh. For being here, for sharing with us, for your beautiful book. I can’t wait for all my friends to read it as well. It really is one of my favorites I’ve read this year and I cannot wait to see where it gets to go! #AtHomeInTheWorld

Thanks, Kaytee!

At Home In The World (of books)

My parents are travelers. They have been to so many amazing places. And, starting when I was very young, they never had any qualms about bringing their children along. Some of the most memorable moments from my childhood are centered on the times when they took us somewhere new. We spent a summer driving up and down the California Coast, splashing in tide pools, visiting the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, and Disneyland.

We spent a summer in Australia and New Zealand. We snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef and climbed Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island of NZ all within a few weeks of each other (as a mom now, I cringe at the idea of packing for that difference in temperatures!). I remember being on a New Zealand train and learning how to knit with NZ wool from NZ sheep. I remember a volcano that exploded in Rotorua that left the cars, trees, and streets covered in Ash. I remember the Syndey Opera House and seeing those sweeping curves rise up from the water like a flock of birds.

We spent a summer in Europe, taking trains from London to Paris to Berlin to Rome to Florence to Milan. We took small boats from Venice to Murano and Burano to see the glass and lace factories that have been there for generations. We fed the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square. We ate fettuccini carbonara with a raw egg cracked on top of it at your table. We snacked on Brie and escargot, and still talk about our favorite Parisian waiter. We watched the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and tried to make the Beefeater soldiers laugh.

My family also enabled or empowered me to strike out on my own. That meant two additional trips to Europe, one with my high school orchestra, where we traipsed around small towns in Germany (the cello was on the bus with me!),  and visited the Czech Republic to see the red roofs of Prague. I also spent six weeks in Spain studying abroad in the summer between when I finished my Bachelor’s degree and started my Master’s degree. They took care of my new husband while he studied at home and I drank Calimocho (wine and coke) with my young undergrad friends who called me abuela.

My husband and I traveled together as well, as soon as we got started on our journey of wedded bliss. We honeymooned in Jamaica, staffed a small clinic in Baja, Mexico, built houses with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Guatemala. We sailed on catamarans in Belize and St. Thomas.

And then we had some babies! We took our boys all over the place when they were tiny and free to fly and nursed to sleep on the plane. They went to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Penasco. We got stamps in our passports and theirs together, as a family.

 

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Cancun, MX

 

And then we stayed home for a while, and I turned to books for adventure. We were overwhelmed and exhausted by the idea of packing all the things, and flying somewhere and who would get sick, and who would misbehave. But when I open a book for the first time, I am so excited to discover a new world (or re-enter a favorite one, if this is the next in an already-loved series). I cannot wait to meet new characters, explore new landscapes, or feel new feelings. I am thrilled to fall in love for the first time (again!), run away from a killer, or experience the prejudices of racism. Maybe this time I’ll grow up in the south, see the world through the fingers of a blind man, or live in India. I might be part of these characters’ lives for a week or a year or three generations. Every single new book that I open reveals another facet of the world I love to explore.

As I jump from book to book, I am transported from space stations on Mars to springtime in Manhattan, from the battlefields of WWII to a dystopian future I could never imagine. Great fiction takes me there, for far less than the cost of a plane ticket, or time machine.

Non-fiction involves the same transportation, but always somewhere in this world. Perhaps I know myself better; perhaps I walk a hard road alongside the author, or perhaps I recognize the seedy underbelly of a society that I have never seen before. When non-fiction authors open my eyes, they force me, or maybe just help me to look further inward and outward than I have in the past. These authors open up new worlds that exist right here around me, instead of only in the pages of their books.

And that’s what today is about. Today, Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, At Home In The World, just showed up at my house. I got to read it already, so I can tell you it’s a beautiful reflection on travel and the love of adventure that my parents gave me from in my earliest memories – and that I hope to instill in my own children. It’s also an ode to the homebody, to the desire to put your roots down deep and have a favorite chair and a favorite restaurant and your own pillow. It’s a happy juxtaposition of wanderlust and belonging.

And if you’re like me, or if you’re not, and you love the places of this world but maybe can’t afford plane tickets for everyone right now, or can’t handle the headache that might come with the travel, be sure to grab a copy of Tsh’s memoir. It will take you around the world while you sit in your favorite chair. It costs less than as a fast food meal for the family, but she will share with you the flavors of four continents and 20 countries.

So, what’s next for me? Well, I’m gonna keep reading my books and seeing the world that way, but we’ve also put two new family trips on the calendar for this summer because I read this book. Tsh prompted me to remind my husband of our early adventures and ask him if we are instilling that love of adventure in our kiddos. The answer was to book flights, and make hotel reservations, and go exploring. Because I want to be at home and rested and comfortable, but I want to remember how small I am as well, and see its sights and feel its climates and revel in its wonders.

*disclosure: I was provided with an advance copy of this book by the publisher, but I also bought my own copy, with my own money because I love it that much. Links used are affiliate links: no cost to you but a little kickback to me*

A Bookish Remake

Everyone who’s anyone has already said their piece about the new live-action Beauty and the Beast (2017) with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. There’s the whole controversy about LeFou, there’s the wah-wah about adding new songs and making it longer. There’s this, that, and the other all in the news. So, why would someone who writes a blog about “bookish” things have anything to say about the new version of this beloved childhood film?

Well, if you’re anything like me (fellow bookworms, can I get an AMEN!?), you’ve been walking around since the early 90’s telling anyone who wanted to know that Belle is your favorite princess. Why? Because she loves to read, and that makes her “rather odd”. And, like Belle, you’ve always got your “nose stuck in a book”, so there’s “no denying she’s (I’m) a funny girl”. Right? Are you singing the song yet?

belle

Let’s continue: also, if you’re anything like me, there was just a niggling little doubt in the back of your mind. Let’s put aside the fact that Belle falls for a Beast, and talk about the fact that, despite her loathing Gaston for his inability to love books like her (among other things), this doesn’t seem to stand in the way of her budding relationship with the Beast.

gaston

In point of fact, Belle finds out that the Beast cannot read either, and rather than shaking her head at him – see above GIF, she takes the time to sit with him and teach him about her favorite past time.

beast

This can’t just be me that this bothers, right?? Look at the Beast giving some serious side-eye up there.

Well, have no fear book-lovers. If you’re one of the five people who hasn’t seen the new live-action version of B&TB, hitch up, Phillippe, girl, and get to the movies! In the 2017 Disney remake, they changed just a few things (how Maurice gets to the Beast’s castle, how he gets caught, a few bonding moments for the title couple, etc), but one of the most important, for book lovers, at least, is that…. TADA! The Beast is well read! He had a very expensive education! 🙂 The first REAL conversation he and Belle have together is about her favorite book and then he takes her to the library to show her his favorites!

library

live library

And that, my friends, is enough to make one fall in love. Even with someone who otherwise appears to be a Beast. Yes? ❤ ❤ ❤